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GP Ouest France-Plouay - CDM & ProT

France, August 24-25, 2008

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Stage 1 - August 24: Women's World Cup GP de Plouay, 114.6 km

Luperini the Wolf strikes again

Arndt secures World Cup title

By Ben Atkins

Fabiana Luperini (Menikini - Selle Italia)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Fabiana Luperini (Menikini-Selle Italia-Master Colors) won the Grand Prix Plouay World Cup in a two-up sprint with Luise Keller (Columbia). The Italian and German champions broke away from the peloton mid-way through the fourth of six laps and stayed clear to finish 31 seconds clear of Suzanne De Goede (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung).

"I am very happy because it is a very important race and I am without races for a month," said Luperini.

After winning the Giro d'Italia in July, Luperini has only raced in the previous World Cup round in Sweden, while others were at the Olympic Games in Beijing and the recent Route de France.

"I am very happy because I didn't think [I could win the sprint], I think it's very beautiful, the victory today," she said. "It is a very important race for this year. I am very happy to [get to the finish], to win because I am very tired."

Luperini's breakaway companion Keller adds this result to her victory in the Route de France last week. Despite having won the recent stage race though, the German champion was still feeling fresh.

"Yeah, I feel pretty good," she said. "Our tactic was in general to ride really aggressive today because always when we are doing this we are successful, so the whole team tried to escape today."

Despite having the build of a lightweight climbing specialist, Keller has shown in the past that she can produce a fast finish. Despite being unable to drop the Italian champion in the final half lap, she felt confident of victory. However, when Luperini decided to sit on in the closing stages and Keller found herself stuck on the front.

"I thought I could beat her in the sprint," she said. "But in the last three kilometres she wouldn't work any more."

Luperini therefore managed to keep fresher than the German and won by more than a bike length.

Team Columbia had ridden a seemingly perfect team race until the closing stages. The second lap saw attacks first from Dutchwoman Chantal Beltman and then American Kim Anderson, forcing the other strong teams - most prominently the Bigla team of defending champion Noemi Cantele - to chase. Once Keller and Luperini had broken away, any attempt to chase would be instantly marked by either Beltman or World Cup leader Judith Arndt.

"It was a comfortable situation," said Keller. "I knew that even if they would catch us there were two of our team that could go as well, so it was a really good situation for us."

Third placed Suzanne De Goede (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung) was chasing a double objective in today's race: the victory itself and the overall World Cup competition. Unfortunately for the former Dutch champion the victory eluded her, but more importantly she only managed to finish one place - and five points - ahead of leader Judith Arndt (Columbia) and needed at least 12 points to keep the competition alive heading into the final round.

"Judith also has had a really good season this season, and of course I will do my best in [the final round in] Nürnberg again, but for now I am also happy with second place," she said. "First is of course nicer, but second is also good.

"I tried to get extra points today because I was a little bit in front of her [Arndt] - one place - I have to do my best in this race also but I'm happy with third," she added.

As more of a sprinter than a climber, De Goede needed an even pace coming into the finish in order to stay fresh for the finish, which her team - moving to the front in the final of six laps - was able to set. "It was tough," she said. "The last lap the team did really good: one speed on the last climb and that's perfect for me, and that's why I managed to get third. So the team did a good job also today."

Despite Columbia being by far the most dominant team in the race, De Goede actually found that this worked to her advantage. Its marking of every move ensured that no further riders escaped, and meant that there was still a chance for the Dutchwoman to take a victory if the duo up front were caught. "If they close the gap every time that's good for me," she said. "It worked out well for us today."

Defending the race that it has won for the last three years through Cantele and Nicole Brändli, the Bigla team was particularly active in trying to bring back the two breakaway riders. In the latter stages multiple attempts were made by Cantele and Brändli to escape, but most of the early work was done by Andrea Thürig and Jennifer Hohl.

"Yes, it was very hard," Hohl said. "In the finish I couldn't go. We did a lot of work, but in the last [lap] I had cramp and Andrea was at the front for the work and the finish was s**t for our team. Not like last year.

"It was a very hard race," added the Swiss champion. "We do a lot of work, but the finish was not good for our team. It was s**t."

Arndt conceded just five points in the Women's World Cup standings to De Goede by finishing fourth and so secures the overall World Cup competition for the first time in her career with one round remaining. The former World Champion mused at how successful the race had been for Team Columbia, despite Keller not managing to seal her performance with a win. "I think we were the strongest team, and maybe Nürnberger," said Arndt.

Coming into the race with an unassailable lead over all but De Goede, it was clear what the tactic should be to make sure of victory in the season-long competition. This plan though had to be altered due to the closing of the time gap to the breakaway of team-mate Keller.

"My plan was to attack De Goede on the last climb and get rid of her so that I can make it clear," she explained. "But then we were too close [to her breakaway team-mate], so I couldn't really go. Too bad she didn't win."

Immediately after the race though, Arndt was not sure if losing only one place to her Dutch rival would be enough to guarantee final victory. "I don't know how many points you get for third, yeah, I don't know," she said. "But I mean it's difficult when you want to race for both - for the win for the day, and for the whole [World Cup competition] - sometimes you don't get anything."

Despite her concerns though, the German former World champion takes the World Cup title with one round remaining and can look forward to racing the Rund un die Nürnberger Altstadt for the race itself with no worries about the overall competition.

"That would be perfect," she smiled.

The final round of the World Cup will be the Rund un die Nürnberger Altstadt on September 14.

How it unfolded

Some 89 riders from 16 teams took the start under cloudy yet sunny skies, but with a stiff westerly breeze at their backs on the finishing straight. Preset at the start were last year's winner Noemi Cantele (Bigla), as well as the leading two in this year's overall World Cup: Judith Arndt (Columbia) and Suzanne De Goede (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung).

The first of the six 19.1km circuits was completed in 34:52, in an average speed of 32.9kph, with the peloton groupé, led by the Vienne Futuroscope, AA-Drink and Flexpoint teams. On the second lap the action began with attacks from first Chantal Beltman and then Columbia team-mate Kim Anderson escaping the peloton, forcing the rest of the peloton to chase.

Part way through the third lap Edwise Pitel (Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz) set off in pursuit of the lone American, but both riders were pulled back and the peloton was groupé at the halfway point.

Anke Wichmann (Columbia) and Miho Oki (Menikini-Selle Italia-Master Colors) broke free in the first half of lap four. The pair were caught but the catch caused a group of eight riders to break clear.

The breakaway group consisted of: defending champion Noemi Cantele (Bigla), Judith Arndt and Luise Keller (Columbia), Edita Pucinskaite (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung), Fabiana Luperini (Menikini-Selle Italia-Master Colors), Karine Gautard (Vienne Futuroscope), Edwige Pitel (Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz) and Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel.

From this group Keller and Luperini managed to escape as the others were reeled in by a Cervelo-Lifeforce led peloton. Keller and Luperini continued to build their lead, up to 1:35 with less than two laps to go, despite strong work at the front of the peloton by the Bigla team.

Several attacks in the closing stages, notably from Cantele, Pitel, Beatrice Thomas (ESGL 93-GSD Gestion) and Olympic silver medallist Emma Johansson (AA-Drink) were all neutralised by Arndt and Beltman.

Keller attacked Luperini with around eight kilometres to go and managed to open a small gap, but the Italian champion managed to reel in the German and the two headed towards the finish together. Despite their fast diminishing lead, Keller and Luperini arrived inside the final few hundred metres together, with Luperini tucked on Keller's wheel.

Keller led out the sprint first, but as the finish line neared Luperini came around the young German to take the victory. Some 31 seconds later, the entire remains of the peloton arrived together with the sprint being taken by De Goede over Arndt and Martine Bras (Vrienden Van Het Platteland).


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Régis Garnier/www.velofotopro.com

Images by CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net


1 Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Menikini - Selle Italia               3.16.49 (34.936 km/h)
2 Luise Keller (Ger) Team Columbia Women                              
3 Suzanne De Goede (Ned) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung           0.31
4 Judith Arndt (Ger) Team Columbia Women                              
5 Martine Bras (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                      
6 Julie Krasniak (Fra) France                                         
7 Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Menikini - Selle Italia                       
8 Modesta Vzesniauskaite (Ltu) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung         
9 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                        
10 Emma Johansson (Swe) AA-Drink Cycling Team                         
11 Noemi Cantele (Ita) Bigla Cycling Team                             
12 Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Ned) Team Flexpoint                    
13 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung             
14 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint                                
15 Vicki Whitelaw (Aus) Australia                                     
16 Andrea Thürig (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team                             
17 Irene Van Den Broek (Ned) AA-Drink Cycling Team                    
18 Béatrice Thomas (Fra) ESGL 93 - GSD Gestion                        
19 Lieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                    
20 Edwige Pitel (Fra) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                     
21 Karine Gautard (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope                            
22 Kimberly Anderson (USA) Team Columbia Women                        
23 Carla Ryan (Aus) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team                
24 Nicole Brändli (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team                            
25 Chantal Beltman (Ned) Team Columbia Women                          
26 Miho Oki (Jpn) Menikini - Selle Italia                         0.51
27 Elisabeth Braam (Ned) Team Flexpoint                           0.53
28 Elodie Touffet (Fra) Gauss RDZ Ormu                                
29 An Van Rie (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                   1.17
30 Carlee Taylor (Aus) Australia                                  1.34
31 Laure Werner (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team                           
32 Jennifer Hohl (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team                             
33 Joanne Kiesanowski (NZl) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team    4.28
34 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team              
35 Karen Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team        
36 Sigrid Corneo (Ita) Menikini - Selle Italia                        
37 Christine Majerus (Lux) ESGL 93 - GSD Gestion                  5.53
HD Jaccolien Wallaard (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland          23.02
HD Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Australia                              18.48
HD Leda Cox (GBr) ESGL 93 - GSD Gestion                          23.02
HD Kathryn Watt (Aus) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                   18.48
HD Maja Adamsen (Den) Team Cmax Dila                             23.02
HD Pascale Shnider (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team           
DNF Monica Holler (Swe) Bigla Cycling Team                            
DNF Linda Villumsen (Den) Team Columbia Women                         
DNF Anke Wichmann (Ger) Team Columbia Women                           
DNF Claudia Häusler (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung              
DNF Eva Lutz (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung                     
DNF Nathalie Bates (Aus) Menikini - Selle Italia                      
DNF Giada Borgato (Ita) Menikini - Selle Italia                       
DNF Iise Geldhof (Bel) Belgium                                        
DNF Hannah Verhaege (Bel) Belgium                                     
DNF Maaike Polspoel (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen Thompson Ladies Team    
DNF Ludivine Henrion (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team                      
DNF Latoya Bruleé (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team                         
DNF Inge Van Den Broeck (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team                   
DNF Liesbeth De Vocht (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland               
DNF Marit Huisman (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                   
DNF Liesbeth Bakker (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                 
DNF Kaytee Boyd (NZl) New Zealand                                     
DNF Laura Thompson (NZl) New Zealand                                  
DNF Sarah Murdoch (NZl) New Zealand                                   
DNF Kerrianne Torkler (NZl) New Zealand                               
DNF Yvette Hill-Willis (NZl) New Zealand                              
DNF Sonia Bazire (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope                             
DNF Fiona Dutriaux (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope                           
DNF Nathalie Jeuland (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope                         
DNF Moriah Mac Gregor (Can) Vienne Futuroscope                        
DNF Emmanuelle Merlot (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope                        
DNF Peta Mullens (Aus) Australia                                      
DNF Leonie Burford (Aus) Australia                                    
DNF Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Menikini - Selle Italia                    
DNF Fabienne Gautier (Fra) ESGL 93 - GSD Gestion                      
DNF Joelle Numainville (Can) ESGL 93 - GSD Gestion                    
DNF Audrey Lemieux (Can) ESGL 93 - GSD Gestion                        
DNF Mélanie Bravard (Fra) Team Lot-et-Garonne                         
DNF Aurore Jeudy (Fra) Team Lot-et-Garonne                            
DNF Emilie Lebrun (Fra) Team Lot-et-Garonne                           
DNF Honorine Martin (Fra) Team Lot-et-Garonne                         
DNF Fanny Riberot (Fra) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                   
DNF Eugenie Mermillod (Fra) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz               
DNF Brei Gudsell (NZl) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                    
DNF Magali Le Floch (Fra) France                                      
DNF Magali Mocquery (Fra) France                                      
DNF Aodez Le Fourn (Fra) France                                       
DNF Jacobien Kanis (Ned) Team Flexpoint                               
DNF Saskia Elemans (Ned) Team Flexpoint                               
DNF Adriene Snijder (Ned) Team Flexpoint                              
DNF Emma Rickards (Aus) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team            

World Cup standings

1 Judith Arndt (Ger) Columbia

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